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Bruja EP

South Yorkshire trio Bruja have stitched together an impressive example of how to blend the gruff and hazy elements of grunge with an ability for catchy song writing in their self-titled debut EP.

The tunes come thick and fast. Openers ‘XXX’ and ‘Drone’ charge forward, plummeting head first into a swampy morass of overdriven guitars and propulsive drums. ‘Sugarbaby’ repeats the formula, at first sounding like a lost tape from Nirvana’s Bleach sessions­ – a murky bass riff sits inside a swell of guitar feedback, soon launching into the same reckless mischief as the first two tracks. This is abruptly reigned in and replaced with clean guitars, a measured beat and sparse vocals from lead singer Del Wadsworth, exposing the fact that while the band may style themselves as 'wobbly grunge', they demonstrate much ability outside this loose yet amusing label.
Without doubt, there are nods to that angst-ridden, sludgy subset of alternative rock. But what stands out most about Bruja is not so much the homages they pay to the baggy-shirted counter-cultural icons of the late 80s and early 90s, but the well-crafted, minimal and contagious hooks that carry this release. ‘Horsey & You’ and ‘Bon’ revolve around playful yet pensive melodies, and provide a nonchalant counterbalance to the faster side of the EP without sacrificing any of the energy.

There seems to have been an NME-endorsed grunge revival of late, with bands like Royal Blood, Drenge and Wolf Alice pushing a darker, fuzzier sound compared to last decade’s twee indie projects. Bruja may well fit into the general mould, but if they can maintain their own unique balance of infectious, poppy hooks and grungy instrumentation, they’ll be sure to carve out a name for themselves.

Aidan Daly

by Now Then Manchester